The Social Function of Sociology and Its Alienation from Itself

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 15:30-17:20
RC36 Alienation Theory and Research (host committee)

Language: English

It has been argued that the 1920s were the time when American sociology took the path towards professionalization and outgrew its immature aspirations and engagement with social reform, while classical American sociology gradually came to be viewed as insufficiently original and was excluded from the sociological canon. An awareness began to grow in the second half of the twentieth century that sociology suffered from an identity problem, and that its professionalization had not increased its scientific prestige and social status. Sociology had supposedly removed itself from the process of the “collective definition” of social problems and was content with waiting for such problems to be “publicly designated by society” in order to study them (Blumer 1971). Boudon viewed sociology’s identity crisis as related to its transformation into a “cameral science” that supplied the state, social activities, and the media with data for making social policy, not for understanding problems (Boudon 1994). If sociologists today wish to participate in social problem work and claim-making, they should then do so as members of the environment, not as those having expert knowledge (Loseke 2003). Sociology thus appeared to be a science with no useful social function other than helping politics and the media to decide what social problems are so that sociologists can study them as objective conditions. This session will explore the reasons for this identity crisis in terms of sociology’s alienation from the empirical world, its public, and itself.
Session Organizer:
Vessela MISHEVA, Uppsala University, Sweden
Vessela MISHEVA, Uppsala University, Sweden
Oral Presentations
Roots of Overcoming Sociology’s Alienation from the Pressing Problems of Politics
Larissa VDOVICHENKO, Russian State University for Humanities, Russian Federation
How to Regain Legitimacy for Social Sciences Research
Teresa SORDE-MARTI, Department of Sociology, Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain; Liviu Catalin MARA, Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Spain